Jackson: The musical outshines the movie

This year’s musical presented a great technical challenge to the theater department at Iowa Central Community College.

“Every single scene starts in one place and ends in another place within the same song,” said Director Teresa Jackson. “And there are three songs where it starts in one place, goes to two other places and ends up in an entirely different place. It’s craziness.”

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” is Broadway’s version of the 2001 movie of the same name, about a sorority girl majoring in fashion who gets herself accepted into Harvard Law School in order to win back her boyfriend.

Jackson thinks the musical is better than the movie.

“I love the musical. The movie I was like, ‘Eh, whatever’,” Jackson said. “If people didn’t like the movie, they’ll still love the musical.”

The set changes required “tremendous technical vision,” she said, from the set design to the lighting design to the staging patterns.

Stage manager Jacie Simon helps in getting all those set pieces in place.

“There’s so much set moving, to keep up the flow and the pace,” she said. “Last year we didn’t have anything, there were just mirrors. This year we have the walls, we have so many little details to go on, it’s a lot of work.

“It’s nice that we get the cast members to help us move them out, so it’s not just the four of us.”

All the backstage workers have to know the script inside out, she said, so they know exactly what comes next. Much of their work involves setting up one scene behind a curtain while another scene is going on in front.

“We have a prison backdrop and a park backdrop. We have it set up specifically so when they drop them behind that set, we can set another set up,” Simon said. “It’s a lot of multitasking, so we don’t run into any bumps in the road where the show has to slow down.”

Adding to the scale of the show is the huge cast. Jackson said she found a role for everyone who tried out.

“I have a cast of over 50. Probably 55, almost 60,” she said. “I’m using the cross country girls to be in my fitness scene. I’m using everybody who wants to be in it, which makes my life insane.”

While last year’s “A Chorus Line” had a smaller cast, this show reminded Jackson of 2011’s “Hairspray,” another musical with a movie attached.

“When I did ‘Hairspray’ I thought there would never be a show this difficult to do, because there were so many scene changes. But this one is harder than hairspray was.”

Emily Laughlin plays Elle Woods, the lead character. She said playing the lead is a lot of responsibility.

“It’s kind of difficult because everyone will compare us to the movie. But it’s actually totally different from the movie in certain ways,” Laughlin said.

Olivia Jondle also said it was difficult.

“There’s a lot of expectations,” she said. “I think there’s a lot more pressure, because we have to one-up the movie.”

Jondle plays Vivienne Kensington, the woman who steals Elle’s boyfriend.

“I definitely get to channel a different character than I am in person,” Jondle said, “because I have to be really mean to Elle, who I have actually been best friends with since like preschool.”

As a protagonist, Jefferson Fosbender has it a little easier.

“I like that the character is a lot like myself. He’s kind of the laid back, smooth guy,” Fosbender said. “I like being able to just portray that side of my personality.”